The announcement came just two weeks before the final edition of another of the capital’s seminal fetish events: Club Subversion.
As previously reported, the retirement of Club Subversion with a final party on November 23 was the result of a decision made in June not to continue the event beyond 2018, following the terminal cancer diagnosis of longtime collaborator Dave Playpenz.
Dave sadly died shortly after making a brave appearance at the club’s last night — a night that brought to an end a partying history of 15 years, the last 12 of which were with Dave’s close involvement.
In contrast, the demise of Rubber Cult a month after its sixth birthday event in October was a bolt from the blue — apparently as much for founder Miss Kim as for everyone else.
In a joint statement issued on November 9, Kim and co-host Synth (aka Cynth Icorn) explained that they had “made the difficult decision to close” following Synth’s decision to quit and focus on her art practice.
Synth said: “‘It has been a huge honour to have created and run Rubber Cult with Kim; to have created a unique space for rubber culture and community.”
From its inception, she said, Rubber Cult had been about “making an inclusive space for rubber fetishists which had a simple and clear focus”. But, she added, the “incredible warm community” that came with it had blown them both away.
She went on to thank all the club’s patrons and “all of our artists, performers, fashion designers, venue hosts, helpers, mistresses and maids over the years”, plus the European Fetish Awards for RC’s Best Start-Up award, and her co-host Kim for “all her hard work and dedication as a team”.
Synth ended by hoping that, after the “ground- breaking” event that was Rubber Cult, “may we move forward knowing we were all part of that piece of fetish history“.
Kim’s contribution to the same post revealed how taken aback she was by her collaborator’s decision to depart.
“When Synth told me she was off to pursue her own artistic endeavours, and no longer would be a part of Rubber Cult, I was shocked and gutted,” her statement began.
“I felt we were a great combination and really made Rubber Cult groundbreaking in every sense. Straight away I thought I didn’t want to do it without her.”
Then, she added, she thought about all the people who were going to be disappointed. “I tried my best to think of lots of different solutions, but I just kept coming back to the same thing: it wouldn’t be the same without Synth.”
So a common thread running through the otherwise coincidental closures of these two influential London fetish nights was that both decisions stemmed from the loss of a significant individual without whom the remaining team members did not want to continue.
But I was keen to find out why retiring Rubber Cult — which had been so important to the UK latex community and also to rubber enthusiasts from further afield — had been seen as the only option once Synth decided to leave.
For example, I wondered, had the pair not considered the possibility, after hosting their final Rubber Cult, of someone else being interested in taking the event over, and thereby keeping both the brand and the spirit of Rubber Cult alive?
When I put this question to Synth shortly after November’s announcement, her initial response simply echoed what had already been said in the joint statement:
“Kim and I agreed that we don’t want to run the event with out each other. That is why Rubber Cult isn’t going forward. It’s the combined efforts and talents of us both and to run it solo would not do the event justice.”
But, I pressed, did you not consider the possibility, after your final Rubber Cult, of transferring the club to new owners?
“I appreciate your interest,” Synth responded, “but Rubber Cult as a branding will not be for sale.
“There have been lots of rubber-focused clubs which popped up inspired by Cult,” she added. “Hopefully they will be able to do justice to Rubber Culture in the way we sought to.”
I agreed with her that there had been one or two other enthusiast gatherings that had been ‘having a go’ — one that immediately sprung to mind being Rubber Revolution.
But I said all those I knew of were smaller-scale events that, by the nature of the private or semi-private venues they tended to use, could not really be considered to offer a clubbing experience comparable to RC.
This, I felt, was in line with the growing fragmentation of the London/UK scene, where we have been seeing an increase in smaller events, often replacing traditional mid-size and even larger gatherings, as a consequence of suitable larger venues becoming increasingly scarce.
“You’re right,” said Synth. “Most of the smaller events are private or run in dungeons but at least there is still that fetish focus which was so vital to Rubber Cult.
“It does seem that smaller-scale events are popping up where larger scale events are closing down.
“That’s a shame as it’s very hard to create the same vibe as at nights like Rubber Cult, Club Rub or Subversion where we can have international performances, and at larger scale venues which afford a different vibe from smaller events.”
So given that the final Rubber Cult was a done deal, what could Synth tell us about the developments in her artistic life that led her to abandon her Cult-leader role?
This was a subject that, it turned out, she didn’t want to discuss in too much detail, as she has long strived to keep her art career (practised under another name) as separate as possible from her fetish activities.
But she did reveal that there were a couple of specific events that had really crystallised her feelings about needing to leave the Cult.
“I’ve had these Biennales happen,” she explained, “and they really made me wake up and realise that I need to focus on what art work I want to make now, and how to push that forward.“
In case you’re not familiar with the term, Biannales are bi-annual international art shows that, in Synth’s words, are “like the Met Galas of the art world”.
“It’s been very exciting,” she added. “One that I was in had Yoko Ono’s work in it too.
“This year , Damien Frost’s portrait of me is in the Museum of London; also I performed at the ICA as part of Fluidø [film screening and performance party]. And this is while I’ve been working on Rubber Cult and other club nights.READ MORE
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